Performers in the spotlight: Poetry Out Loud semi-finalists siphon creativity


Photo Rafaela Coelho

Sophomore Anthony Francalancia recites “Adlestrop” by Edward Thomas. He is progressing onto school finals.

Cassidy Wang, A&E Editor

Students competing in the Poetry Out Loud semi-finals competition recited an extensive selection of poems in the Black Box theater on January 11.

Over 30 students participated in the poetry recitation contest, which was scored on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance by three judges. Eight students are to move on to Poetry Out Loud finals.

“What’s different about this year is that there are no difficulty scores,” Poetry Out Loud coordinator Seth Czarnecki said. “I think that really puts the focus less on the difficulty of the poem and more on the performance of the poem- which I think contributed to how close this competition really is going to be.”

For some students, this year was their debut on the Poetry Out Loud podium.

“I’ve always liked public speaking, literature, and theatre, so it was nice to be recognized for what I like to do,” freshman Elsa Ray said, who recited “Abandoned Farmhouse.”

Sophomores Anthony Francalancia (“Adlestrop”) and Mike Batsolakis (“Eagle Poem”) hoped to evoke certain emotions in their performances.

“I think the recitation of poems is more than just the words,” Francalancia said. “The emotion that emits through it is really the importance of the poem,”

“I hope my poem gave people thoughts about a new meaning to life, and how you can restart yourself,” Batsolakis said.

For reciters, interpreting each poet’s message played a large role in their rendition.

“You have to figure out the speaker and you have to figure out the context of everything, so it shows you what the poem meant to the author,” sophomore Jon Hatem said, who recited “Beautiful Wreckage.”

According to sophomore Kara Hadden, she didn’t understand what her poem (“Blind Curse”) meant at first.

“But the more that I read it, the more I understood it,” Hadden said. “I like when the interpretation of [poems] is not blatantly there.”

With clarity, Hadden said she tried to portray the importance in coming to terms with the presence of frustration.

Other reciters picked poems they could emotionally relate to.

“I wanted to pick one that was mellow and easy for me to express, and something I could relate to,” Francalancia said.

“My poem [“Always Something More Beautiful”] is about running and success and what I find beautiful,” sophomore Bridget Brady said. “It touches me on an emotional level because it deals with success and trying to be perfect, but it’s not always possible.”

Czarnecki believes the best part of Poetry Out Loud is seeing a side of students different from that in the classroom.

“You have the happiest student and then they bring Sylvia Plath to the stage and you can feel the sorrow,” Czarnecki said. “Or you might have this quiet student who recites the Charge of the Light Brigade and their voices are turned up to 11; I really like to see that other side of the students and how poetry is a catalyst for that.”

The students moving on to Poetry Out Loud finals on February 2 are freshman Julia Guay, sophomores Kara Hadden, Taylor Murphy, and Anthony Francalancia, and seniors Evangelos Baltas, James Junker, Sarah Milnamow, and Hannah Moran.